Online Gallery

Portraits from Tower Avenue, Jamaica
A Photo Series by Dexter McLean

Autograph is delighted to share photographs from Dexter McLean's series Tower Avenue, awarded the prestigious Hood Medal in 2021 by the Royal Photographic Society. The Medal was first instituted in 1933 in recognition of a body of photographic work produced to promote or raise awareness of an aspect of public benefit or service.

In Tower Avenue, McLean revisits the community around Olympic Gardens, Jamaica where he spent his childhood. Inspired by a sense of togetherness and the importance of familial networks, this ongoing project features black and white photographic portraits of an intergenerational constituency of individuals living in the local area. His long-term ambition is to create a collective portrait documenting the disabled community in Jamaica, drawing on his own experience of living with cerebral palsy, to challenge historical representations of black and disabled communities.

Tower Avenue will be on display at Orleans House Gallery from March 2022, in the artist's first solo exhibition. McLean is also a participant of our Transforming Leadership project in collaboration with Shape Arts, and you can see his newly-commissioned work on display at Autograph’s gallery in Care | Contagion | Community – Self & Other.


"I enjoy living in Tower Avenue because I get to enjoy playing fun games with family and friends"
— Gregory


"Rocko is a disabled self-employed craftsman. He was forced to take matters into his own hands as there aren't allowances present in Jamaica to assist the disabled community. During the shoot he decided to wear a t-shirt that has a picture of the current prime minister of Jamaica (Andrew Holness) to express his passion for politics."
 Dexter McLean

Patsy Family and Friends

"During the photoshoot Patsy along with her friends and family all expressed that they are quite happy living in Jamaica and believe Tower Avenue is a nice place to live as it is very family oriented"
— Dexter McLean


"Junior was very excited and restless during the shoot. I allowed him the freedom to express himself in the way that he felt most comfortable"
— Dexter McLean

Miss Cherry

"Miss Cherry is my grandmother. She constantly provides me with words of wisdom."
— Dexter McLean


"Before the shoot Jimmisha stated: 'because I grew up in the social media era, taking photographs has become a regular part of my life...' However on the day of the shoot she admitted to feeling slightly nervous"
— Dexter McLean


"I enjoy living in Tower Avenue as it provides me with the opportunity to play with the other kids in the neighbourhood"
— Shamar


"I feel that there aren't enough job opportunities in Jamaica" 
— Precious


"I have known Andre since before I migrated to the UK so he was willing and happy to help out with setting up for the photo shoot. He stated during the shoot: "I wish to travel abroad because there aren't enough opportunities for the youth in Jamaica"
— Dexter McLean


"I have experience living abroad however I prefer life in Jamaica due to my close family ties on the island"
— Dowey


"I've known RJ since he was a child. He has always been enthusiastic to be a part of the things I am involved with"
— Dexter McLean

Miss Faye

"This photograph was taken while Miss Faye was making her way back home from grocery shopping"
— Dexter McLean


"I felt the photograph made me look grown up"
— Moota


"This is a photo of my father. This was taken while Michael was on a break from work. He is a craftsman known to produce household furniture in the community"
— Dexter McLean


"Aailyha was initially hesitant to participate in this project. However, she admitted to have enjoyed the experience overall"
— Dexter McLean


"Lance is considered to be one of the 'Rude Boys' in the community which means he doesn't have a stable job and would frequently hang around by the roadside. He stated, 'I don't think Tower Avenue has enough job opportunities and if given the chance I would travel overseas to enjoy the benefits that the west countries have to offer.'"
— Dexter McLean

Aunt Goody's Hot Spot (72 Tower Avenue)

"This Bar is very popular amongst the village elders hence the reason it is open during day and night"
— Dexter McLean

about the artist

Dexter McLean

Dexter McLean (born 1993, Kingston, Jamaica) moved to the United Kingdom when he was nine. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child, McLean’s documentary and portrait photography is concerned with addressing fundamental flaws in the representations of the disabled community in mainstream media and elsewhere.

McLean was the first person in his family to attend university, graduating with a Masters degree in Photography from Middlesex University in 2020. McLean is currently part of the Shape Arts Transforming Leadership Programme in partnership with Autograph. He lives and works in London.

You can follow the artist on Instagram and see more work on his website.


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Banner image: Dexter McLean, Aunt Goody's Hot Spot (72 Tower Avenue) [detail], from Tower Avenue, 2019. © and courtesy of the artist.

All gallery images are from Tower Avenue, 2019. © and courtesy Dexter McLean.

Discover more images: 1) Heather McDonough, Cliff's Mother [detail], from the series RePose. 01. 2) Dexter McLean's work in Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other exhibition at Autograph, London. Curated by Renée Mussai, Mark Sealy and Bindi Vora. Photograph by Zoë Maxwell. 3) Dexter McLean, Kymarley [detail], from Untitled, 2020. © and courtesy the artist. Commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other. 4) Dexter McLean, Kinsley [detail], from Untitled, 2020. © and courtesy the artist. Commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other.